Living in a city like Syracuse has been a total life changer. Although I am a New York native and have lived here my entire life, nothing could have prepared me for the coldest winter I have experienced mentally and physically. The month of February was like living in the polar vortex that I keep reading about in social media. My classmates and peers who lived in Syracuse longer than me have suggested and warned me to buy a thick and warm coat and some good snow boots. On most days, if the wind chill was not higher than -20 degrees, I felt pretty protected from the harsh weather.
While the weather was on of those factors that kept me cold, another factor that kept me cold was myself. If you read my last post, you understand that I have been having a lot of moments when I was not at my highest mentally. I’m not proud to say that I still haven’t been able to go out and actively seek help for therapy. While with that stated, I just found the weather to not be so supportive to my mental health. I am easily affected by the weather, when it rains, I don’t feel too happy, when it feels cold or when it is snowing, I feel tired and exhausted.
I’ve been finding that during the month of February, my warmth came from my job and my practicum, but mostly from my practicum. Usually when I am traveling to SU for the day, my first stop is at my practicum, which is the Office of Off Campus and Commuter Services. Last month, the snow was pretty bad and trying to walk from the bus stop that I get off at to the office seems like walking through quick sand, especially for me having short legs and big snow boots. Once I walk through the office door, the feeling of accomplishment overcomes me so fast and I feel exhausted yet safe to be in that space.
Being near inviting people made me feel warmer. The people in the office are great to talk to. I find myself forgetting about the weather affecting me terribly when I talk to my supervisor and the office coordinator. They bring me back to life and remind me that feelings are often temporary. When I head to work and have my one on one meetings with my supervisors and my students, I develop more of the understanding that the weather may be the only issue with my day or one of the many issues of the day. Talking and working with the students and fellow staff members help me with developing relationships.
And on that topic, maintaining relationships are my key way of staying warm. Currently I am on Spring Break (but that will sadly come to an end this Sunday), but I used this time to go and visit my hometown of New York City. I was extremely excited to come to NYC because I was visiting during a week of GREAT weather. After surviving negative degree weather, coming to an area that had forty to fifty degree weather put me in a great mood.
I stayed with my best friend and his family. I felt like a part of the family during this time. We played games, we had funny and meaningful discussions. On top of that, my best friend’s home was often more warm than I anticipated it to be. The environment was physically warm and the social interactions made it much warmer.
During this week, I managed to visit my alma mater to connect with past supervisors, advisors, and friends. It was such a great experience to visit the school and to see how things have changed and how things were still the same. I also spent some time with my family members while they were in NYC.
I realized coming down to New York for the break made me me see that I need to find comfort in making connections in Syracuse the same way I managed to keep all the connections that I had made prior to starting graduate school. My cohort members are cool people and I have met other SU graduate students, I need to continue working on finding that warmth that will remind me that the weather and the grad school journey is worth it.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Meagan, Karyn, Michael, and Alice, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.